Elwood H. Smith
October 2006
Banjo Dave

Dear Drawgerites,

I learned to play guitar when I was about 15 years old and I've continued to play music in one form or another throughout my life. My brother, Dave (about 18 months my junior & my childhood sidekick) learned to play drums in high school, but lost interest in performing once he headed off for college. I guess the ham in me kept me going. Over the years, I harbored a dream that Dave would learn to play guitar, mandolin or banjo and, whenever he would trek from Michigan to visit me in New York or I would end up in my Michigan hometown to visit him, we'd haul out our instruments and, much like the Everly Brothers, we'd create the special kind of music only family members can make.

But Dave didn't learn to play the banjo or the mandolin. Not even the ubiquitous guitar turned his head. No matter, my dream, like a vaporous barnacle, was in it for the long haul. Opportunity knocked in mid-September. My sister, Jude, and Dave and his wife, Elaine, journeyed from Tennessee & Michigan to Rhinebeck for a short visit. One morning, during my daily walk, inspiration struck. An idea for a video, followed the lyrics to the perfect Dave song began rattling around my head. I'd hit upon a way to realize my dream. I arrived home, jotted down "Rats & Nails" and asked Dave if he'd be willing to be an actor in a short video. Uh, yeah, okay. How could he refuse his older brother?

I tuned my tenor banjo (4 strings, short neck) to an open tuning so Dave could strum it without worrying about chords. The song was short and simple--no chord changes & a bluesy, modal melody. Dave sings occasionally in a choir, so it was a piece of cake. We needed a set. The dining room was chosen, chairs were moved and living room floor lamps were brought in. Dave gamely allowed me a half dozen or so takes. As payment, he demanded a supply of Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre ale, which he soon began carrying with him as he trundled on and off the stage.

Dave suggests cracking open a dark ale before viewing this small movie. Damned fine advice, banjo man.


Click Here for Rats & Nails


In my first Mondo Luigi article (4/25/06), I tell how I met Brian Hoard and of our eventual decision to work together on a project. I always have several stories percolating on the back burner, but the Mondo Luigi characters seemed an obvious choice for Brian's Maya 3D approach to animation. I've only done 2D animation using Flash & Toon Boom Studio software. I've also created some hand-drawn, scanned and assembled animations. I thought it would be fun to see my characters puffed up into 3D.

When Brian is ready to begin a scene, I send him a rough storyboard along a couple of finished color renderings of the main characters. I also provide him with a soundtrack (I get to do the music, a real perk!) and a timing breakdown of the action within the scene. From then on, Brian does all the hard work.

I've often wondered how Brian churned my 2D characters into 3D. It seemed magical, a mystery. He'd discuss "rigging" and other terms unique to 3D animation and though I had some vague idea of what he meant, it was nothing concrete. I knew the process was kind of like puppetry but, until I saw the QuickTime movies now available on his site, I had no idea just how labor intensive the 3D construction was. I find it fascinating and technically daunting.

I know there's a ton of stuff begging for your attention here on Drawger (& elsewhere), but if you find an extra couple of minutes, check out Brian's informative QuickTime movies. He's made a page just for us with "Final Movies" (only 2 finished, so far) and "Behind the Scenes", which deals with the process. One of the QuickTime movies "Luigi Breakdown" was done for a talk Brian recently gave to a class of fourth-grade kids. Perfect for me.

Click here to view:
(You may need the latest QuickTime player from Apple - it's free)
Luigi Rigged
Bendy Monkeybones

Hey, Drawgerites! Sorry I haven't been around here much. So much to do, so many new faces here in Drawgerland, so little time. Hard to keep up.

I did notice a bit of monkey business going on in my absence & thought you should know about a little known monkey animation. There is, of course, the infamous Green Monkey animation on my website, but I created this one sometime back when the vector program I most often use, Toon Boom Studio, created their version specifically for a Mac. Wanting to try it out, i whipped up a quick animation using my favorite character, Green Monkey and slapped together a soundtrack in GarageBand.

Click here:
It should take you to my YouTube page.
Monkey is waiting for you.

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